Review: Imilab EC4 Spotlight Battery Camera with Solar Power and Smart Hub
Security cameras are a tricky product to get right. They are either very affordable and most likely not the highest functioning or very expensive and high functioning. From Google Nest to Arlo to Blink, what security cameras bring you both function and affordability? In this review, I am covering the Imilab EC4 rechargable outdoor camera with Solar Charging.
Imilab is a smart security technology provider for Xiaomi and Samsung — so they are no stranger to high-end consumer security appliances. The Imilab EC4 rechargable security camera is a top of the line camera with no compromises and can even be charged by solar power. It even has a reasonable price of $369.
The Imilab EC4 comes with the camera, USB charging cable, mounting bracket, Imilab Smart Hub, power adapter, and RJ45 Networking cable. If you purchase the solar panel that comes with the solar panel, mounting hardware, and USB cable to connect to the EC4 camera.
Setting up the EC4 is relatively easy once you understand how the app works. I set up the EC4 using an Android based Samsung Galaxy S20 5G phone and I also wanted it to work with my Google Home setup. I read through the instruction manual, connected the EC4 to the Smart Hub, mounted the EC4 and Solar Panel where I wanted them, and was up and running. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the advice of the manual and forgot to fully charge the EC4 before mounting. The EC4 functioned properly, except that the Solar Panel wouldn’t charge the camera.
Luckily, the EC4 can run for about 3 months without recharging under middle to low usage. But I was really confused why it wasn’t charging, especially because I live in sunny Southern California where we have no shortage of sun. Once I realized I hadn’t fully charged it on my own, I took the EC 4 down and fully charged it overnight. From then on the solar panel took charge and powered the EC4 consistently. One of the best features of the Imilab EC4 is the ability to constantly charge the camera by way of the solar panel without having to stop recording. Even after a month of relatively heavy usage, my EC4 is a 100% charge!
Technically, the Imilab EC4 has a resolution of 2.5K/4 megapixels. The resulting video is sharper than I have seen in other security cameras and is a relief. It is especially helpful when I’m watching my 3 sons in the backyard playing and I need to zoom in to see what they are doing (are they squishing bugs or eating them?!).
The resulting image is good as you can see from the video above. I did enable the “WDR” mode (a.k.a. Wide Dynamic Range) to hopefully preserve more detail in the highlights and the shadows but I think the shadows are still a little dark. Overall the image reminds me of a GoPro where bright natural colors like green and blue are emphasized and saturated while dark-shadowey colors get muddied up a little.
Where the Imilab really shines in my opinion is at nighttime. Not only does the EC4 have a really helpful spotlight to act as lighting for the video but also to scare away any would be intruders — it also allows for full color night vision. As you can see in the above video, the time is about 8:30pm during the summer. While the light isn’t completely gone, in reality it is very dark at that time. The EC4 has a powerful color night vision process that allows you to see clearly even at night. It is really incredible.
The Imilab EC4 has some other really helpful features including Detection Zones to specify zones that the camera shouldn’t waste it’s energy monitoring. The Solar Panel as well as the EC4 are weatherproof and can withstand rain, snow, and heat. They will operate in temperatures from -4° to 122° Fahrenheit.
In addition to using a microSD card for storage, Imilab also has cloud recording abilities that you can purchase (24hr monitoring/smart monitoring/cloud storage/encrypted upload):
- 3-day overwriting $1/month
- 7-day overwriting $1.99/month or $19.99/year
- 30-day overwriting $3.99/month or $39.99/year
I was using a microSD card to monitor my recording and while it is useful it is a little tricky to find the video clips inside the phone app. You have to click through a few menus to find the SD card storage. It’s even trickier to download the clips. I had to remove the microSD card and access it through my laptop to extract videos. Which I guess could be considered a security feature but I would love to have password access to be able to download my own clips. The file-layout on the SD card is nice though, there are folders separated by dates and times.
In the end, The Imilab EC4 rechargable security camera with solar power charging looks and works great. The Imilab Smart Hub is a great way to funnel local camera traffic outside of a router so you don’t tie up your internet speeds. I love the solar power charging without having to interrupt recording of videos. Randomly, I was near my Google Nest Hub and asked it to show my the “Backyard” (I named my EC4 “Backyard”) and to my surprise it worked after adding it to my Home setup! This was a really welcome and surprising feature. I actually found myself using the Imilab EC4 through my Google Nest Hub more than the Imilab app on my phone. The addition of an audible alarm and two-way voice communication helps to keep me connected to the perimeter of my house at all times. And the AI features including human detection vs. animals really helps when setting up text based alert notifications. Furthermore, if you find yourself being bothered with overly sensitive notifications, you can adjust the duration of how long someone would have to be detected before the camera will record and or notify you.
What could be improved on the EC4? The Android App could really be optimized. While it can be figured out, I always imagine how my parents would fair if they had to set these types of electronics up and use them. I think my parents would be calling me every day. So if you are technically inclined and don’t mind using some technical elbow grease, the Imilab EC4 is a great alternative to some other name brand security cameras.
You can find out more about the Imilab EC4 on their website: https://store.imilab.com/.
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